Sunday, August 31, 2014

On A Troublesome Inheritance

An assortment of reactions and responses (calling it a review would be way too pretentious) to Nicholas Wade's A Troublesome Inheritance follow. First, a couple of minor quibbles:

- In the context of the eugenics movement in the US in the early 20th century, Wade equates "restrictive immigration laws" (p38) with the actions of state legislatures decreeing sterilization of the mentally infirm and the Supreme Court's decision in Buck v Bell, which allowed for "unwarranted assaults on the country's weakest citizens".

Immigration restrictionism, to the extent that it has as an objective of increasing human capital inside of the country, is only fairly described as potentially being about positive eugenics. State-mandated sterilization, on the other hand, is an example negative eugenics in practice. Positive eugenics are considerably less 'controversial' than negative eugenics are. Additionally, the implicit assertion that a nation's control over who is allowed inside its borders is as dicey as a nation's control over which of its citizens are allowed to breed, needs, at the least, a full explanation, of which Wade provides none.

- Wade asserts that in contemporary Western countries "the affluent now tend to have fewer children [than the poor do]" (p180). That may be overly pessimistic*, at least in the US.

Now, some inferred policy implications (how's that for audacity?):

- The more a society is characterized by paternal investment, the easier it is for that society to become (or maintain being) one of relatively higher trust. Paternal investment, which includes at its base identification and presence, has, by extension, an influence on the level of inbreeding in a society. Crassly, picture a scenario in the projects where paternal investment or even certainty is not a given. A child who does not know who his father is may end up mating with a relative he would not have otherwise mated with had he known previously that she was his cousin.

More importantly, however, pair-bonding creates a dynamic in which children are familiar not only with their maternal extended families but also with their paternal ones. When they enter the mating market, they then, by extension, become familiar with their in-laws. Their in-laws, of course, are people to whom they are not (outside of tribal societies) closely related to. The base of their social network is thus much wider than it would otherwise be. As Wade puts it, "Having a dad around makes all the difference to social networks" (p45).

When paternal investment is lacking, social networks shrink in size and trust declines. At the same time, the hole left by the absence of said investment must be filled by other suppliers, often the state. The state's role as surrogate father creates a relative material disincentive for future paternal investment, perpetuating a vicious cycle in which the decline of trust in society is but one consequence. Increasing diversity isn't the only reason we're hunkering down.

- There really is no place like home. Among contemporary European adults, 90% of people can be located to within 435 miles of where they were born, and 50% within 193 miles (p79). Among non-Europeans, the percentages are presumably even higher, and in the past these percentages were surely higher still. Feelings of homesickness and deracination experienced by those living far from where they grew up presumably has a genetic basis, and the American tendency towards migration across (and outside) the country can't be free of potentially problematic psychological consequences. Very few of our ancestors were rootless wanderers. 

In this vein, Dan's recent comment in response to the observation that empty nesters are at heightened 'risk' of experiencing boredom is worthy of reflection:
Empty nesting is a degenerate modern thing. The solution is to be engaged with one's clan so that raising kids blends smoothly into helping with grandkids.

For this you need enough descendants to begin with. My nearby parents have from one to all four of my kids over at their house on many days. There is massive mutual benefit.
You also need the geographic proximity to make it possible.

- I've whined about seemingly unnecessary semantic changes over time, one of which is the noun progression to identify people of African descent in the US from negro to black to African-American. Similar to Palestinians, Somalis, and Ethiopians (p94), blacks in the US are a mix of Caucasian and African--two of the three major racial classifications Wade favors, the third being East Asians. As "African" and "negro" are essentially interchangeable in this racial context, black is the most apt descriptor of the three since it identifies a primarily African but also Caucasian racial hybrid category (in much the same way the terms "mestizo" and "mulatto" do).

- "Language is often an isolating mechanism that deters intermarriage with neighboring groups" (p98). If one of the Cathedral's goals is biological assimilation between US natives and immigrants into the US, linguistic assimilation is a prerequisite. Yet the Cathedral has nothing but disdain for those who would have English as the official language of the land.

I suppose we could overcome these two contradictory goals by mastering every tongue now present in our New Babylon!

- How much more history of the ancient and medieval worlds can be told? Are we not at the point where all the major approaches have been exhausted, the consequence being that only niche narratives, like the history of facial hair, are left to be synthesized?

Emphatically, no. Wade explains why: "Each gene under selection will eventually tell a fascinating story about some historical stress to which the population was exposed and then adapted" (p105). The Byzantines didn't think of themselves as Byzantines, they thought of themselves as Romans. The term is a latter scholarly invention. We know said Byzantines were socially and culturally Roman. In the future, we'll know how biologically Roman (or not) they were, too.

- Wade rehashes Jared Diamond's principle argument for the nonexistence of race--that there are lots of contradictory ways of categorizing them, and many of the ways are incompatible with one another so therefore all racial categorizations are equally absurd (p117). Italians, Greeks and Nigerians carry genes for resistance against malaria while Swedes and Xhosas do not, for example. Wade demolishes this argument by stating the obvious fact that convergent evolution (though he doesn't employ the phrase) need not and in fact does not imply racial convergence.

Taking inspiration from the chickadee, lightning bolt fits well in both American control and RDW decks. The shared presence of lightning bolt in both builds, however, does not negate the fact that American control is firmly a member of the control family (ie, race) while RDW is a staple of the aggro family.

- Discussing economists' tendency to treat people everywhere as interchangeable units, Wade provides a zinger: "A few economists ... have begun to ask if the nature of the humble human units that produce and consume all of an economy's goods and services might possibly have some bearing on its performance" (p154/5). Hey Russ Roberts, I have a guest suggestion for you!

- In a perfect world, what came to be called "Social Darwinism" would have been called "Social Spencerism", after Herbert Spencer (p24), and human biodiversity would be called "Social Darwinism", since the association with a revered scientific celebrity would make it sound cool. It's not all bad, though--HBD has diversity, after all, and that's pretty hip in itself!

Relatedly, there's a sort of iridescent irony in the Cathedral's assertion that Darwin's ideas have nothing--Nothing!--to say about Malthus' England when Darwin's impetus for the idea of natural selection came from Malthus' "analysis that population was always kept in check by misery and vice" (p11).

- Writes Wade: "Interest rates, which reflect a society's time preferences, have been very high--about 10%--from the earliest historical times and for all societies before 1400AD for which there are data. Interest rates then entered a period of steady decline, reaching about 3% by 1850. Because inflation and other pressures on interest rates were largely absent, [Gregory] Clark argues, the falling interest rates indicate that people were becoming less impulsive, more patient and more willing to save" (p158).

So, to help get yourself get into the mind of a 14th century European commoner, think about the mentality and behavior of someone who takes out payday loans today.

* That society is better off if wealth and fertility are positively correlated should not be politically controversial. From the left's perspective, it means greater economic equality since the rich are spreading their inheritances across more people (and the poor across fewer, so what they are able to spend on and eventually bequeath to their children goes further than it would if they had more kids).

Holding the genic line

Using six centuries of data from England, Gregory Clark shows in A Farewell to Alms that from the years 1200-1800AD, the wealthier a person was, the more descendents he tended to have. This long-running, naturally eugenic trend is often presumed to have come to an end in the West with the onsets of the Industrial Revolution, modern education, modern contraception, and other accoutrements of comfortable modernity.

While there is no longer a clearly identifiable positive correlation between wealth and reproductive success, there are good empirical reasons to think assertions that an inverse relationship between fecundity and affluence now exists are, at best, premature.

Here is some contemporary evidence on a metric paralleling the one Clark employed in his book. In 2006, the GSS asked respondents about their total net worth. The mean number of children among those aged 50 and older (to allow for full family formation to have occurred) by total wealth* follows (n = 412):

$0-$40k: 2.01
$40k-$100k: 2.33
$100k-$500k: 2.18
$500k-$1m: 2.01
$1m+:  2.04

This isn't necessarily cause for celebration, but it doesn't paint a picture of impending doom, either. Eugenia and Dysgenia are, at present, locked in a stalemate. The middle is currently enjoying a gentle reproductive advantage over both the top and the bottom.

GSS variables used: CHILDS, WEALTH(1-3)(4-5)(6-8)(9)(10-15), AGE(50-89)

* Defined as "the value of your house plus the value of your vehicles, stocks and mutual funds, cash, checking accounts, retirement accounts including 401(k) and pension assets, and any other assets minus what you owe for your mortgage and your debts."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bye bye burly

The functional purpose of George Orwell's newspeak is to limit freedom of thought by eliminating from our collective lexicon words that describe concepts potentially threatening to the Party. It is through an Orwellian lens, then, that one might naturally view the risible 'controversy' over the New York Times use of the adjective "burly" to describe the black captain of the Missouri Highway Patrol and also to describe the petty thug on his way to becoming a criminal at the center of the Ferguson conflagration:
Readers wrote to say that “burly” has long been a racial stereotype; the word hasn’t appeared in this context in The Times since the readers’ notes.

So here is the tale of a troublesome word with a fraught history and how The Times came to reconsider its use. Burly means stout, heavy or muscular.
Apparently that revelation was as novel to the NYT editors as it was to me, which is why the initial article containing the word was run by the newspaper. It was only after members of the especially vigilante volunteer auxiliary Thought Police brought the Racist! history of the word to the attention of NYT editors that the apology/correction was issued.

In the comments section of Steve Sailer's first treatment of the subject, Ben Tillman dug up an article in a North Carolinian newspaper from 1898 suggesting an association between "burly" and "black" (or "Negro", less anachronistically). Such an association, to the extent that it existed in the past, has long faded away in the popular mind, as the first page of returns for a Google Images search on "burly man" clearly illustrates:

Forty images, a total of three (if the cartoon at the top left is counted) of them containing black men. If anything, "burly" is a Racist! adjective because it is disproportionately associated with white, rather than with black, men. The NYT should still feel ashamed for using it, though, because any word that is primarily used to describe white men is inherently tainted by its association with the evil incarnate that is white America, and to use an ugly word like that to describe black men is beyond the pale!

... Uh oh, pale probably wasn't the most prudent noun choice given the civilization = light, barbarity = darkness baggage it carries with it.

In a desperate attempt to avoid the ire of the Thought Vols who resurrected the putatively Racist! connotation of a word that had lost all such traces of the alleged connotations in the public consciousness decades--if not generations--ago, allow me to offer the Cathedral three cheers for expunging from our collective vocabulary a word that we naively assumed to be innocuous as recently as a week ago!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

For we but not for thee

Character assassination (evil and racist)

Character... enhancement (right and salutary)
In the words of Lionel Hutz, there's the truth, and then there's the truth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson so far

Initially, we hear that a white cop shot a black, unarmed, freshly minted high school graduate. The pretense was something like jaywalking, but of course the real impetus was irrational racial prejudice. The cop was white, the 'victim' was black. What more do you need to know?

In response, a feral gang of youths (or teens, or whatever--insert the euphemism of your choice here) violently began looting and destroying local businesses. And if not naturally, they did so at least understandably--that is, after all, what civilized people do when they feel aggrieved. They smash stuff!

Those who focused on the mob violence were accused of missing the real story, the lack of "social justice", preferring instead to allow their own lying eyes to maintain the vicious stereotypes they'd constructed and maintained in their own minds--the sorts of heuristics that tell them blacks are nearly eight times as likely to commit violent crimes as whites are. That these facts are, well, facts, isn't important. What is important is that they are Racist and therefore should be dismissed out of hand.

Still dusting off from the pounding they took from the truth in the Trayvon Martin case, the major media recklessly descended upon the inner St. Louis suburb no one in their ranks had ever heard of a month ago and got to work transmitting the official Narrative to the nation.

That narrative started to fall apart immediately. Against the wishes of the US Justice Department, local sources managed to get a hold of convenience store footage showing Michael Brown filching from and then bullying an ethnic store clerk. It's unfortunate the public was able to view the footage, but we should still be grateful that our government is doing all it can to protect our right not to know.

"Character assassination!" came the cries of professional race hustlers and shakedown artists, as though content of character is irrelevant in evaluating an event in which eyewitness accounts differ as to what exactly transpired. It clearly wasn't irrelevant to the mob of looters who errantly targeted an uninvolved QuikTrip under the faulty presumption that it was the store that had reported Brown's cigar theft.

"The cop didn't know Brown was suspected of stealing!" That may be utter bullshit on its face, as the cop, Darren Wilson, conceivably could have put two and two together after seeing Brown and his friend walking in the middle of the road with a box of cigars. But even if Wilson was unaware for the duration of the encounter, Brown knew what he had done and acted accordingly in his confrontation with Wilson.

A bloodied face and fractured eye socket exposed more mendacity in the official Narrative. Brown physically assaulted Wilson. During the assault, it looks as though Wilson's gun discharged.

As pillar after pillar of the Narrative crumbles, the Establishment is now taking refuge in the assertion that Brown was fleeing the scene when he was fatally shot. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a third autopsy performed after the first two didn't return the results he desired (this one putting little emphasis on the THC levels in Brown's body at the time he was killed; marijuana is, after all, benevolent and has no affect whatsoever on inhibition or the lack thereof!). This is the same sage who bullied Missouri state officials into calling off National Guard troops, resulting in a couple more days of unchecked violence and looting in Ferguson before St. Louis county took charge of the situation. A real class act, that Holder.

The Ferguson police department says it has over a dozen witnesses who claim Brown was charging Wilson when he was given the coup de grace.

Even if the Establishment finally gets some 'good news' (ie, Wilson acted out of line, justice wasn't served, and an abuse of police power occurred) on this last account, it makes for a pretty pathetic illustration of what Steve Sailer describes as putatively being "one of the Defining Events of Our Time, a Searing Indictment of the National Crisis of the White Racist Power Structure Murdering Black Babies." Rather, it's "just another local police blotter item of crazy ass behavior in the ‘hood? I don’t care what race you are, if you are in a dispute with a cop and thrust your head into his police car and then his gun goes off hurting and no do doubt scaring him, it’s highly likely additional bad things are going to happen."

In a country of 320 million people, this is the story the Establishment chooses to spotlight in its ongoing effort to spin a story diametrically at odds with the empirical realities on the ground? Again, Steve:

"[The Establishment] needs Incidents, ideally involving white men murdering innocent blacks. But, that just doesn’t happen much, our entire system is obsessed with punishing it when it does happen, and the Obamas and Holders and the press are dependent upon potential examples being brought forward to their attention by mobs exacting pogroms upon convenience stores for snitching. And mobs are notably bad at careful evaluation of the evidence."

The desperation to impugn middle class white America would almost be funny if it weren't so dangerous. Twenty years ago, Ferguson was predominantly white. Then Section 8 housing was imposed on the southeast side of the city. Predictably crime, poverty, illegitimacy, and uncivic behavior all increased. Whites began fleeing, and now the place is in the process of becoming unlivable by middle class American standards. This stuff is so drearily predictable, which is why everyone is so obsessed with 'location, location, location' when deciding upon where to live. The only way to avoid this stuff is to stay a step ahead of it. The Decline and Fall of the American Republic is being written as we speak.

Parenthetically, the complaint about the police being overly militarized is a non-starter. If you're in a battle, you need to be in it to win. The access to 'excessive' force is not a problem, it's a necessity. Arbitrarily trying to handicap the situation so that criminal elements have a fighting chance against the police is madness. That said, it need also be noted that this issue is separate from the one of police abuses of power, which is of course a problem to varying degrees in various locations and situations.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Flight from white (Credit: Steve Sailer)

More from the Michael Brown wellspring.


"Would you rather be born white or black?"

Gavin DeGraw's answer works for me, and I think that's the healthiest answer any person can give. For so putatively secular an age, our societal belief in original sin can really give a person pause, though.

I realize that's a somewhat parochial view on my part. I'm not aware of any contemporary movement in the US towards wanting to be white, but there is definitely a palpable "flight from white" phenomenon occurring, the more "core" the whiteness, the less attractive it is to be identified as such. For example, in the 1980 Census, over 18% of the population reported English ancestry. In 2012, it was less than half of that. The Hispanic and Asian population increases should've taken that figure down to around 16%. The bulk of it's mysterious removal is from people of European descent identifying as other less 'shameful' ethnicities, especially Irish (in truth, the vast majority of whites in the US who are fourth generation-plus are a mix of European ancestries--I happen to identify most with my English heritage since its paternal and therefore easier to trace and because one of my distant ancestors had a neat interaction with William Shakespeare, but that's as much for style as it is for substance).

Our current president is an obvious example of said aforementioned trend--he has benefited enormously from his black ancestry and has adeptly chosen to consistently emphasize it. Sometimes he's presented as black, sometimes as mixed race, but never as white. That impulse is writ large among blacks across the country. African-Americans in the US are, on average, about 80%-plus west African and 15% European by ancestry, yet they reliably consider themselves to be African-American/black rather than mixed race. White Americans, on the other hand, are, on average, about 99% European by ancestry with trace amounts of African ancestry or Native American ancestry rounding out the rest (despite lots of public pronouncements to the contrary about being part Native American, a la Elizabeth Warren, those stories are often apocryphal).

Rather timely, the venerable Pew recently ran a story on the push for Middle Easterners and North Africans (MENA) in the US to be able to identify as something other than white. Currently, the only ethnic (I know, this stuff gets semantically slippery) option for Census purposes is the dichotomous Hispanic/non-Hispanic. MENA groups want a MENA category added. This excerpt pithily gets to the heart of why they want as much:
What’s more, some argue, being classified as "white" prohibits the MENA community from taking advantage of the benefits that come with minority status—including local, state and federal programs that give a leg up to minority-owned businesses in awarding government contracts.
I do wish the General Social Survey would ask your question, though. I suspect the highest percentage of people responding that they would rather be member to a race other than their own would be whites. The World Values Survey shows a pretty striking inverse correlation between traditional measures of a nation's desirability (low crime rates, high per capita income, low infant mortality, low corruption, etc) and its residents pride in their nationality. That is, the 'crappier' places tend to be the proudest and the 'nicest' places the most ashamed.

"Poverty and a range of other issues impact the IQ gap you speak of to the success and failures of governments and municipalities. Associating the failures all with one race is harmful and exactly the kind of thing that makes these gaps grow bigger. Instead of saying 'all these things are associated with black people, they must be the problem' (which is one of the most blatantly racist things a person can say, I think), we need to take a closer look to figure out how all these interact and work together to solve these problems. Let's get out in our communities and try to make a difference."

White kids from families earning under $20,000 a year perform as well on the SAT as black kids from families earning over $200,000 a year do. And of course closing the gap has been a national obsession for over half a century now, yet it remains incorrigibly intractable. Exactly zero progress has been made. Because we're not trying earnestly enough, I suppose!

"I'm just trying to share something I personally find to be important. I think it's important for people to both think about and to attempt at being comfortable discussing race. I'm not looking for a debate."

I'm doing just that--comfortably discussing race. I'm not trying to badger anyone else into debating it. You're the one who posted the link, after all.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ferguson, Michael Brown, and White Privilege

My response on social media to a piece that would make Tim Wise blush.


This is a pretty sick illustration of ethnomasochism, but that is the ecumenical religion of the contemporary Western white leftist, so one shouldn't be particularly surprised. Still, it almost seems like a parody. I say that because the four examples she gives--the Rodney King beating, the OJ Simpson trial, the Jena Six, and Trayvon Martin--are suboptimal examples for the writer to use to make her putative point. They are all blatant examples of really bad black behavior on display. The Rodney King case is the only one that is legally ambiguous--OJ Simpson was obviously guilty, the Jena Six were violent, racially-motivated thugs who were protected because of their athletic prowess, and the actual narrative of events in the Trayvon Martin case made it clear that under no stretch of the imagination could the American legal system convict George Zimmerman of criminal wrongdoing. Ferguson might turn out to be a different (ie, legitimate) story, but I don't think that's where the smart money is.

Blacks commit violent crimes, including murder, against whites at rates 40 times greater than whites commit against blacks each year in the US. That ratio has more-or-less held in place for at least the last few decades according to both FBI UCR data and crime victimization survey data. Black ACT and SAT scores carry an applicant farther than Hispanic scores do, which carry farther than white scores do, which carry farther than Asian scores do.

Relatedly, the mean IQ gap between whites and blacks has stayed remarkably constant for at least a century, at just over one standard deviation. And apparently white privilege, as propitious a thing as it is, is inferior to Asian or especially Ashkenazi Jewish privilege. Curious thing.

And then there's post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa, which by virtually every measure is faring worse than it was when it was imperially managed by Europeans. Rhodesia used to be Africa's breadbasket. Zimbabwe, well, not so much. Maybe colonialism was just a lot harder on Africans than it was on Indians, Indonesians, Filipinos, Hongkongers, Americans, Canadians, Australians, and on and on and on. If someone is able to name a municipality that is both majority-African administered and majority-African populated without being plagued by the problems that are common to Detroit, Haiti, and the Congo, do share.

Keep choking the golden goose and eventually it will die. In 1950, people of European descent comprised 25% of the world's population. By the turn of the century, it had dropped to 16%, and by 2050 it'll be under 10%. I suppose then social justice can finally be realized, Rwandan-style.

Big 5 personality traits and fertility

Dennis Mangan links to a study finding positive relationships between greater reproductive success and higher extraversion, lower conscientiousness, and lower openness to experience, as well as a more attenuated positive correlation with higher agreeableness.

The GSS dipped its toe in big five waters back in 2006, asking survey participants ten questions, two per trait (which is suboptimal, but we work with what we have). The mean number of children among respondents aged 30 or older by each trait (bifurcated for simplicity):

Extraverted -- 2.15
Introverted -- 2.19
Agreeable -- 2.38
Disagreeable -- 2.22
Conscientious -- 2.27
Unconscientious -- 1.98*
Stable -- 2.28
Neurotic -- 2.34
Open to experience -- 2.19
Closed to experience -- 2.17

Some marginal suggestive support for agreeableness but not for extraversion, conscientiousness, or openness to experience.

GSS variables used: BIG51A(1-2)(4-5), BIG51B(1-2)(4-5), BIG51C(1-2)(4-5), BIG51D(1-2)(4-5), BIG51E(1-2)(4-5)

* Only 8 valid cases--the others were in the 3- or 4-digits range--unfortunately, the conscientiousness questions are worded in such a way that a respondent really has to make himself out to be a dirt bag to categorize as not being conscientious; that is, he has to describe himself as someone who is lazy and incapable of doing a thorough job on things.

Michael Brown's mob fiddled while QuikTrip burned

Social media exchanges, with the germane comments of others in quotes, on a series of incidents that strike pretty close to home follow.


The innocent angel who was gunned down by the oppressive blue line in Ferguson, MO, going about his daily business filching cigars from an ethnic brave (or foolish) enough to do business in the hood.

These stories of putative actionable racial animus towards blacks by non-blacks are so often mendacious--if not outright hoaxes--that one's default presumption should almost be that they're bullshit until proven otherwise. After all, innocent until proven guilty does have some sort of history in this country, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, the empirically indisputable fact that blacks commit violent crimes against whites at a rate 40x higher than whites commit violent crimes against blacks is passed on in silence, with those daring to point out as much doing so at their own risks to their careers, safety, and even lives. What do you mean the emperor is naked? Those clothes he has on are very fancy!

"What is your solution?"

To drop the political correctness and talk about these things empirically. When AG Eric Holder says he wants an honest discussion about race, we should be all in. The race hustlers and media sensationalizers do no one (other than themselves) any good by so reliably and consistently assuming the worst when (statistically exceedingly rare) serious white-on-black violence occurs. When the demographics aren't right, the public tends not to hear about similar incidents (search Zac Champommier, for instance).

There are two obvious negative consequences of the Michael Brown story thus far: 1) Chain retailers, restaurants, etc are going to move out of Ferguson because the PR from the mob violence is really bad. Yeah, they get some sympathy for being looted and, in QuikTrip's case, torched, but the companies' reputations suffer as well, since they want to be seen as safe places for employees to work and customers to shop, and 2) Police everywhere are going to have yet another story admonishing them to take a hands-off approach in areas of the country that need policing the most. The silent majority in areas like Ferguson who are generally law-abiding and non-violent will end up paying the price.

"This just proves that both sides need to calm down and wait for all the facts to come out before jumping to conclusions. Did Brown deserve to die? Probably not. Was he an innocent angel gunned down completely without cause? Probably not."

Of course, the premature hysteria, histrionics, and violence tend to emanate from one side a lot more than they do from the other.

"So he didn't know he was a suspect..OR how about this LA times, he made an identification of a suspect based upon deductive reasoning taught at the most basic training in the PA that led to the assumption that he was a suspect in a BOLO."

The fact that the officer was not responding to a known suspect of the recent robbery doesn't mean that coming upon Brown and his friend (who has admitted the two did in fact steal from the store) he didn't make the potential connection.

As for the clarion call that this isn't 19th century France and filching cigars shouldn't get someone sent to the gallows, that's not the point. "Content of character" is a relevant concept that will be in play when assessing witness accounts of what occurred. It, in concert with the officer's alleged facial wounds, certainly makes the idea that Brown assaulted the police before being shot plausible.

Friday, August 15, 2014

When the girl who first he kissed promised him she'd be his

Heartiste, turning his powers of perspicacity on what may be an emerging bifurcation in the sexual culture of these formerly united states, makes one factual error in so doing. Its impact on his broader argument is marginal, but it is worth considering:
Some sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, but teen sex is down (while teen pregnancy is up *head scratch*).
Fortunately, teen pregnancy has been steadily declining over at least the last couple of decades:

In a sort of propitious reworking of the observation that the white illegitimacy rate today is as high as the black illegitimacy rate was upon the publication of Moynihan's famous report on the dissolution of the negro family, the black teenage birth rate today is on par with the white teenage birthrate of a generation ago. Progress need not always take away what forever took to find.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

States ranked by SPM (supplemental poverty measure) rates

As a provincial in the hinterlands, the title of Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? has been stuck in my craw since I first started blogging nearly a decade ago. It's not due to a necessarily strong attachment to the state I call home, but to the presumption that being in a place like Manhattan--crowded, polluted concrete jungle surrounded by millions of status-striving lemmings who are renting spaces one-third the size of the house I own--is inherently a superior way to live. Some people thrive off being engrossed in the busy anonymity of an entirely artificial world, but not everyone does, nor is such an existence necessarily superior to a more settled, personable (and generally more materially comfortable) lifestyle.

That superciliousness is palpable in a book like Frank's, in which the author sardonically argues that red-staters in flyover country vote against their own economic interests with both persistence and ignorance. Those pathetic retrogrades, how pitiable they are being manipulated so! Such an argument rests on the assumption that said flyover states are poor. Looking merely at nominal income statistics, there is such a case to be made. The real value of a dollar, though, is what you can get in return for it, and in flyover country that dollar goes a lot farther than it does in the boroughs.

Several years ago, Steve Sailer attempted to get a handle on monetary standard-of-livings by state using ACCRA's cost-of-living index. That index isn't perfect (at least not the free version) since state values are calculated by an unjustifiable equal weighting of participating cities with those not participating left entirely unaccounted for.

Census data from 2012 offer another way to approach the question, with what the august institution deems the "Supplemental Poverty Measure" (SPM--my thanks to MG for the heads up). Here are a few of the major differences in the way the official poverty measure and the SPM are computed:

The SPM adjusts for things like effective household size, housing costs (for which there is enormous geographic variation), taxes, etc.

The following table inversely ranks the 50 states plus DC by their SPMs. A visual representation of the same is subsequently presented. This fares better on the smell test than the official poverty rate does in terms of comparing and contrasting relatively poor and affluent states:

1) Iowa8.6
2) North Dakota9.2
2) Wyoming9.2
4) Minnesota9.7
5) Nebraska9.8
6) Vermont10.1
7) New Hampshire10.2
8) South Dakota10.6
9) Wisconsin10.8
10) Maine 11.2
11) Kansas11.5
12) Idaho11.6
12) Utah11.6
14) Montana12.1
15) Washington12.2
16) Missouri12.4
17) Alaska12.5
17) Connecticut12.5
19) Pennsylvania12.6
20) West Virginia12.9
21) Ohio13.2
22) Virginia13.3
23) Maryland13.4
23) Oklahoma13.4
25) Alabama13.5
25) Michigan13.5
27) Kentucky13.6
27) Rhode Island13.6
29) Colorado13.7
30) Massachusetts13.8
31) Delaware13.9
31) Oregon13.9
33) Indiana14.2
33) North Carolina14.2
35) Illinois15.2
36) New Jersey15.5
36) Tennessee15.5
38) South Carolina15.8
39) Mississippi16.1
39) New Mexico16.1
41) Texas16.4
42) Arkansas16.5
43) Hawaii17.3
44) New York18.1
45) Georgia18.2
46) Louisiana18.5
47) Arizona18.8
48) Florida19.5
49) Nevada19.8
50) District of Columbia22.7
51) California23.8

The darker the state, the higher the proportion of its impoverished residents:

Jack Cashill's riposte, What's the Matter with California?, does a better job than Frank's book in identifying where the real economic--among others!--problems are. The Upper Midwest is the most materially comfortable part of the country, and as one moves in pretty much any direction away from it things more-or-less tend to get worse. Yes, the weather in that part of the US isn't what most people consider optimal, especially those of the Sun variety. But that might be seen as a feature rather than a bug. The inverse correlation between the percentage of the population that is (non-Hispanic) white and its SPM rate is a staggering .81 (p = .0000000000001). Diversity is Strength! It's also... poverty.

Additionally, SPM rates modestly inversely correlate (.37, p = .007) with Romney's share of the 2012 presidential vote. Republican states are more egalitarian than Democratic states are, and, as a consequence, it could be cynically be argued, Democrats have a vested political interest in perpetuating inequality since they tend to do better the more economic inequality there is. Then again, one might think the GOP would have a similar interest in promoting economic equality, but alas. Don't say the party doesn't earn its stupid party sobriquet!

Finally, SPM rates correlate with a couple other unflattering characteristics of New York (or California, or DC, where Frank lives, for that matter) vis-a-vis Kansas: IQ (inversely at .67, p = .000000006) and population density (.39, p = .004).

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The bored supremacy

Several years ago I took a look at the relationship between boredom and intelligence. Turns out the two things are inversely related. When Razib Khan says he is unable to recount a time he has been bored in his adult life, believe him.

Personally, I can't remember ever feeling bored (with leisure time, that is--there are moments in professional life or while waiting in a checkout line that are inevitably going to feel wasted, but that's not really what we're interested in here) since at least as far back as high school, and that perpetual feeling of what I'll phrase as existential engagement has only intensified as I've gotten older. Just getting to work on my backlog of books to read and podcasts to listen to guarantees I won't be twiddling my thumbs for months, and even if I did nothing else with my free time but these two things, I've reached a sort of singularity in which my to-do stack grows at a faster rate than my ability to shrink it down does. I doubt that strikes anyone reading this as particularly unique, either.

Data from the GSS suggests that I'm just entering the sweet spot and shouldn't have to worry about creeping boredom for at least another three decades or so, when senility and empty nesting presumably combine for a nasty one-two punch. The following graph shows the average existential engagement score by age of respondent. The higher the value, the more engaged (and less often bored) respondents report being. N = 2,060:

There is some year-to-year randomness, but an arch-shaped (or maybe Roman aqueduct-shaped, since it plateaus in the middle!) general life trajectory is identifiable. Boredom is relatively common in the late teens (and presumably even more so in the early and mid-teens, though the GSS doesn't interview minors) and doesn't level off until the mid-twenties. For the next 35 years or so, it's fairly steady before beginning to slowly but steadily creep back into the picture from the early sixties onward. Incidentally, 46 is the age that garners the least bored ratings of all. Dennis Mangan's recent speculations about a lack of work (ie retirement) and a corresponding reduction in the will to live might be relative here.

Parenthetically, existential engagement by race and then by sex follow. Again, the higher the score, the less bored members of the relevant group report being:

Asians -- 2.49
Whites -- 2.41
Blacks -- 2.24
Hispanics -- 2.14

Women -- 2.34
Men -- 2.27

Idle hands (and minds) are the Devil's workshop.

GSS variables used: BORED, AGE, RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), SEX

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Gelded Age

Thanks to Jokah for pointing out this sign of our times:

White men (non-Hispanic) are four times as likely as Hispanic men and eight times as likely as black men (non-Hispanic) to undergo male sterilization. I suspect that in very few cases they do so for the same reasons Origen allegedly did, however!

White women are less than twice as likely as white men are to become sterilized. In contrast, Hispanic women are an order of magnitude more likely to sterilize than Hispanic men are and black women are over twenty times more likely to tie their tubes than are black men.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Spoonfuls of sugar

Understanding that pill-based contraceptives increase estrogen levels as a means of essentially tricking a woman's body into thinking she's already pregnant and that studies have shown changes in female mate preferences when on the pill compared to when off of it (relatively more interested in betas when on and in alphas when off), I wonder if the increase in regular pill-based contraceptive use might be contributing to the decrease in promiscuity among contemporary American women*--especially younger women--compared to women a generation or two in the past.

I'm able to find research and commentary on the potentially disruptive affects switching on (or off) the pill during a relationship that began when off (or on) it can have, but not an attempt to systematically look at the influence increasing pill penetration into the US market has had on sexual behavior. Here are a couple of graphs from a CDC report that give some sense of how pill usage has increased over time--a trend that is unlikely to reverse with health insurance providers being mandated to include coverage for contraception:

This is speculative, of course, and the increases in the share of sexually active women using the pill at any given time has only increased from the low teens to the upper teens over the last thirty years (though NAMs are less likely to use the pill (p8) and the NAM percentage of the population has increased markedly in the last three decades) so any associated affects on mate choice probably only matter at the margins. Still, the thought that something putatively liberating like the pill could actually be gently shifting female preferences in the direction of mundane providers and away from bad boys is kind of funny.

* Based on self-reported behavioral surveys and sexually-transmitted disease rates. It is possible that women low-ball their partner counts more now than in the past. That doesn't seem particularly likely, however, since slut-shaming was presumably worse in the past than it is today, and consequently the expectation would be for women to be more honest than ever before because "omg don't judge!"

And your little dog, too

The ghastly murders and despicable evasion of the death penalty enjoyed by the Carr brothers in Wichita are things many people who live in Kansas--let alone the rest of the country--aren't even aware of (unless they listen to Radio Derb, something everyone should be doing), despite the fact that the demographics of the murderers and the murdered are far, far more representative of crime trends in the US than high profile cases like the Trayvon Martin killing are.

War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. The Carr victims were middle class white twenty-somethings, so they had it coming to them. If there was any social justice in this world we'd dig them all up and shoot them again!

For those to whom no amount of implicity can succeed in communicating a point, here are the totally unsurprising visages of the animals we've all been paying to keep alive for over a decade now: